We are told by some that Surveillance and Scientism can each represent a threat to our everyday lives. The first is easy to understand, the second is not always understood at all:
* Surveillance in the public mind probably means some cluster of sun-glassed feds scanning millions of data bytes on ominous screens in ominous underground bunkers just outside an ominous White House. Maybe! More likely Hollywood has transfigured this sci-fi comic book image into today’s menacing reality because of the whopping cash receipts it can generate at the box office
Real or concocted, the idea of Surveillance might easily be turned into a pleasant pastime that hurts no one. Like surveying the human landscape of summer shorts. Shorts…? Yes, shorts; you know what virtually everyone wears whether or not their world is ready to behold their legs or not.
Find a comfortable park bench and try to profile each person according to the legs he/she is showing us. Some are easy like the sensuous young girls and sinewy young men giving you the thrill of their calves and quads. Others — those with everything from chunky to chicken legs — are either comfortable in their own skin or shouting back at the world I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-think.
* Scientism, on the other hand, is a less defined threat. Some simply see modern Science for what it is: A great boon to humanity. Others, however, sense the boon is being depended upon to excess. So that lately there is this unwritten law which says: Science and technology have become the most crucial source for human solutions ranging anywhere from why we exist, why we are attracted to some not others, why we marry, breed, war, profiteer and believe in an after life.
This law implies somewhere there is a gene or chemical or circuit or DNA code that can explain all this. Scientism is to strictly look to the physical [never the metaphysical] for answers. Doubters legitimately ask: “But where is there actual evidence of this science-only mindset?” To answer that demands a great deal of philosophical debate for which this is not the place.
However, here is one small yet symptomatic example of Scientism worth mulling over. The growing population of educated parents who turn to Science and technology first and foremost in raising their children. Melatonin has become the pill of choice [$260 million in annual sales and growing] in helping prep their offspring for their adult world with ads like this now running in the national med: “Prepare your child for academic success by getting him or her to sleep better with our X. Studies show that students with C’s, D’s and F’s got about 25 fewer minutes of sleep than those with B’s and A’s.”
One piece of hyperbolic advertising an Ism does not make. But…! The next time you see the word Scientism, check your everyday life to count the number of ways in which Science and Technology have become your alpha and omega. The tally may not change your life, but it might keep you busy in between scouting all those summer shorts.
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